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18 September 2012


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I actuall haven't read that book yet, but i would like to say that the author did a very good job by revealing the ugly side of Australia.
As stated by the author "the casual and venal attitude of many Australian men to local girls and womemn during colonial times was appaling"...
Studying history, Australia's bad dids where never stated in books.. PNG gaining independence on a golden plate doesn't mean that Australia needs all the good praises....
Therefore I once again thank the author for the exposure of the Australians actions in the colonial period and also racism was at its best too..

I think the topic maybe too close to the bone and rekindle old memories, which for many may expose previous youthful peccadillos perhaps best forgotten.

Like Phil I escaped from a banking career but not straight to that of a CPO. That took another couple of years.

However, the bank johnnies in Lae were legendary with a reputation for the high life in both camps. To get to a PNG bank, employees at all levels applied to go on the "Relieving Staff" roster with the option of serving overseas.

To be fair though, my boxing trainer was a bank johnnie and was very fit.

I recall walking into the Bulolo Branch of my bank to cash a cheque and said to the European teller, "Hello John", to which he replied "I don't know you."

I mentioned a private school in Melbourne and the year to remind him that ten years previously we had been classmates.

I met Jon Doust in Melbourne a few years ago for the launch of his book "Bird on a Wire" which was a novel about his days in a private boarding school.

I was a "day boy" at my private school which also had a boarding house so I could understand the nuances of this story.

Whilst talking to him afterwards, it transpired that one of his friends was a kiap colleague of mine in Madang.

It will be interesting to know what his inspiration for this story was and his sources of information. I look forward to reading it to see if it strikes a chord with my experiences.

Like Phil, I remember the bank johnnies. Especially when in the mid-60s we'd charter a DC3 and head out of Moresby to Rabaul for a long weekend.

There they were unsteady on the pins and full of soup at the Saturday night dances. There was a club run by the (Nationalist) Chinese and their Saturday night dances were all the rage. I think it was called the KuoMinTang Club but hey, it's 47-48 years ago!

I say Nationalist Chinese because one evening while holding forth on the magnificence of Chairman Mao I saw one of the owners hoist his shirt and display what looked like a longish dagger, down his shorts!

The eulogy ended mid-sentence.

One of my lasting memories from this club was a performance from the legendary Ray "Skull" Lonsdale. He hoisted his then girlfriend onto his shoulder and carried her out the main door.

I hasten to add, Phil, that this wasn't another instance of the "venal" attitudes of Aussie men. Skull was just emphasising his girlfriend was his, and no last dances with her for any other punter --- bank johnny or whoever --- was on the cards.

I'm not the least bit tempted to read this book! Working at the Comm Bank in POM in 1970 was a shock to an innocent young girl, my goodness!

The bank johnnies and (what were the girls called? sheilas?) seemed to go right off the rails as they landed in 'The Territory'.

There were three Papua New Guineans working there then, Norman the tea 'man' a lovely old guy from Oro with dangling ear lobes, Henry Fabila who later became MD and another lovely fellow whose name I'm afraid I can't recall.

I remember, as a Comworks employee in 1969 or 1970, going to a dance at Malaytown in Rabaul.

The bank johnnies mentioned were at the dance, unable to dance with the very attractive girls, eyes popping out and getting drunk and frustrated. Someone may inform on them to the manager!

I believe that a doctor's daughter was associating with a Chinese boy and was thought badly of. It really was a racist society and back doors were much in use at the odd hours of the night.

It was similar to the situation of gays in the army; known to happen, ignored if at all possible.

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